Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

What’s Heavy Metal Got To Do With Bike Touring?

So, this old guy walks into a headbanger bar……

red fang poster

Photo from Red Fang website

Red Fang was in Boise this week and they have shows almost every night this month across the country. They play the Roseland Theater in Portland in September after touring Europe July and August.

I was front and center for the show at the Neurolux with my PBR’s and my earplugs. Have you ever heard something so loud that it feels like it is coming from inside you? So loud that the sound waves move your clothing? So loud that it feels like the organs in your body are being rearranged? So loud that it gives you vertigo? So loud that the sound waves enter through your eye sockets and sweep every thought out of your mind before exiting through the back of your skull?

I was still in high school when Black Sabbath released their eponymous first album, and in Montana it was probably years later that anybody heard about it. By the time Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield got together and started making albums I was getting married and having children. Heavy metal was for kids with big mullets and tight pants and high top Reeboks. I was not into it.

Recently I have added head banging to my musical repertoire, which is a little awkward at shows since most of my fellow fans are the ages of my children. I’m just a rookie headbanger and I don’t really know mosh pit etiquette. (Is it even called a mosh pit?) I know that it seems like most of my peers at metal concerts are over 6 feet tall though. Lots of really big guys. But I need to prepare for the Melvins show on September 8.
So far I’ve learned that one should:
-bang one’s forehead rhythmically on an imaginary table top just below the sternum
-wave one’s open beer around so that it sprays over the crowd
-hold one’s ground. If you let people move in front eventually you will find yourself moved to the back until you get spit out
(reminds me of the way I raced bikes)
-not punch the d-bag who keeps bumping into you as he flails around like a spastic

This tall skinny hipster came thrashing all akimbo into the group at the Red Fang show and pushed his way to the front. When he would veer into people they would just push him away. I thought he was annoying and that somebody would punch him out, but by the last song he had everybody in front of the stage doing the same thing. I, at that time, moved away from the action to watch without being elbowed in the face and it actually looked pretty fun… a great way to let out some aggression. About a show in Moscow, Russia the band said on their blog, they said; “I can tell you this about the show: It was terrifying. The fans in Moscow are the most Rabid fans on the planet. Not only were people going absolutely batshit on the floor, but they were making their way on to the stage, where they were spraying blood all over, getting their hair caught in Bryan’s tuning pegs, knocking over everything, stealing John’s sticks and Bryan’s tuning pedal, trying to hug David mid-song and taking the boys waters and beers, then chugging them on stage. It was mayhem. Totally awesome mayhem.”

My younger sister was here with her husband last weekend. They have a touring bike that carries them both. It is made by Harley-Davidson. She is still mad at me for saying I thought it was predictable of her to get a tattoo at a bike rally. But I sort of see the parallels between a bike rally and a metal concert- same cheap beer, same diaphoretic annoying people….just substitute loud guitars for loud motorcycles. Would it be predictable of me to get a tattoo? I’m thinking sleeves.
See you in Portland on September 5 and at the Neurolux on September 8!

4 comments… add one
  • Noble Hardesty June 14, 2012, 12:11 pm

    I LOVE seeing those guys! …and the metal/cycling world comparison…I’m sure you were in fixed-gear hell down there, at least those PBR swillin’ knuckle draggin’ monkeys rode a bike…while I do not get to play on Sept, 5th, I will not miss the MELVINS on Sept. 8th. You think REDFANG is loud…heh…the MELVINS have come the closest to hitting the “brown note” in my metal experience…I have heard that MOTORHEAD is the loudest show ever…on my bucket list…and I’ll probably roll up on a bike when I do it. Nice write up my man…send it to the fang?

    • Bike Hermit June 14, 2012, 1:36 pm

      Yeah I almost turned around and walked away rather than run the gauntlet of “PBR swillin’ knuckle draggin’ monkeys” to which adjectives I would add- tragically hip. Anyways since you know those guys, send them the link, they might trash it or spam it if I send it. Thanks.

  • Sky King June 14, 2012, 1:07 pm

    Sleeves! Noble will have to design them

  • Linda Paul June 16, 2012, 7:17 am

    I see you with the stick-on version.

    What you describe is what I avoid…both in cycles and in music events. I have been to maybe 3 rock concerts in my life. After each one, I walk away wishing I’d just listened to them on my stereo or ipod or whatever. I’d prefer to let speed (vertical) rearrange my organs rather than sound waves. And I HATE being elbowed and having beer slopped over my head. Sounds like a form of torture to me. (Although, I do enjoy skiing and cycling to head banger music…go figure.)


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